Vigil held in hopes for affordable housing to be reality again

The citizens hope that the officials they elected on all levels take action.
Published: Jan. 23, 2023 at 2:33 AM EST
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WAYNESBORO, Va. (WHSV) - When it comes to affordable housing, the people said things need to be better.

A.J. Young created the LifeWorks project with his wife to provide practical support for everyday people. Like many others, he knows finding housing can be difficult.

“Some of the apartments in the area that were previously going for $650, $700 a month payment are now up to $1100-1200-a-month payments. With the increase of recent interest rates, we’re seeing them drop just a little bit but that has really disrupted the formal press of many individuals who have been saving up for down payments,” A.J. Young said.

Residents shared stories about being on the receiving end of the state’s housing crisis, from facing evictions to being deprived when applying for assistance.

“They called me to say there are 400 people on the list just in Waynesboro and they said that we’re just acknowledging that you’re on the list, we’re not even taking your application,” Disabled Veteran Andrea Jackson said.

Some questioned why millions of dollars are going to a pet shelter when, according to Virginia Organizing, the housing shortage is up to hundreds of thousands of homes.

“How can we put that sort of resources in a pet shelter and not into people?”

The citizens hope that the officials they elected on all levels take action. One of the main desires of organizers and attendees is a sense of housing security back.

“When we don’t provide everyone a feeling of safety and security, we can’t expect them to climb up to prosperity. We have to provide safety and security. Everyone should have a safe place to live,” Embrace Community Center Director Jenelle Watson said.

The groups will be calling state legislators to advocate for critical funding amounts for all affordable housing projects.

Virginia Organizing believes that the state’s budget should include the following for affordable housing:

  • $75 million to the Virginia Housing Trust Fund to build more affordable housing and prevent homelessness.
  • $738 million to the Housing Stability Fund to fund a rental voucher program to assist families with low incomes.
  • $12.5 million to the Virginia Reduction Program to reduce evictions with short-term financial assistance to at-risk renters or homeowners.

People are also invited to sign petitions to fund affordable housing and urge Waynesboro to implement a rental inspection program.